Our first attempt at growing pumpkins

This is a story of both success and failure combined. If you want to skip ahead to the lessons learned, by all means, please do.

AngMoh had always had the desire to have a green thumb and grow edibles, mostly vegetables, in her own garden. AngMoh had found some success about 12-15 years ago in a backyard in Colorado. So that sparked the ever optimistic approach. (Though DengLang always says that was ages ago and in a different time / different life so cannot compare)

The first attempt at gardening in their current home in Colorado was in a raised planter box that DengLang had built (out of the left over wood from building our fence).  It was raised and quite high as intended for use when AngMoh was pregnant. Some success with root vegetables and leafy greens, but not great success. Likely due to lack of companion planting for organic pest control, too shallow of soil and watering consistency.

Planning for gardening season in 2022 started in fall of 2021 and much more preparation and reading went into it.  There was a patch of grass and section of the yard that was off in a corner, closer to the house and quite low, so water pooled.  AngMoh attempted to get quotes for extending the deck to fill the space, but few quotes came in and were way too expensive for a simple deck extension.  Instead, they decided to remove the grass and attempt a larger in-ground garden.

They tore up and ripped up the grass. DengLang did most of the hard digging but AngMoh also got down and dirty by moving the grass and dirty into a barrier mound – hoping to stop and soak up the pooling water, as well as keep the dog, Indy or of the hopeful garden space.

AngMoh decided to leverage the mound for planting squash and pumpkins. (After an accidental success of zucchini squash in that general area in a prior year.)

Seeds were planted – bought seeds for pumpkins and zucchini and some saved seeds from pumpkin, acorn squash and spaghetti squash. Beautiful foliage and leaves grew all along the mound.

pumpkin zucchini and squash garden

Zucchini and yellow summer squash were up close by the neighbor’s fence.  Acorn squash were the first to produce fruit, and the pumpkins were next to start. Interestingly, the zucchini, summer squash and spaghetti squash all produced slowly and minimally.

The girls (3.5 and 1.5 years) were extremely eager to help with watering and any gardening activity they could.  They area near the neighbor’s fence got too over crowded and also in an awkward access position.  Occasionally AngMoh would see these different kinds of bugs, kind of beetle looking types, and tried to wash them off with the hose on full strength.  If only she’d have paid more attention to these bugs the first time she saw them.

Nearing season end, the produce from the zucchini and summer squash was bare minimum.  And several were dead/getting eaten on the vine.

The pumpkins were growing, and they could see 5-7 of them.  Those pumpkins really extend their vines every which way.

After a short trip away, the plants weren’t looking so great, mostly the foliage and leaves dying too soon.  They thought it was from lack of water while they were away, but upon closer inspection- it was the bugs.

Come to find out squash bugs are a thing.  And once they’d get started, they are relentless!

AngMoh did some reading and quickly decided a vacuum was going to do the trick. Clear the dead foilage, and vacuum up those suckers.

Overall, the girls are super happy we still get 6 or more pumpkins from our own yard. And we got a few dinners out of the very few zucchini, yellow summer squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash that made it past the bugs.

Lessons learned:
  • Growing pumpkins and squash is not so easy as planting seeds and forgetting about them (albeit watering of course)
  • Pumpkins are the hardiest of the squash when it comes to squash bugs
  • Over crowding really is not good… everyone says it and it’s true
  • If you see squash bugs, try to eradicate them before they proliferate and destroy
  • Vacuuming really DOES work for squash bugs
  • Water the base of the plants and not the foliage, consistently
  • Plant herbs in between that are good at warding off mosquitoes (lemon balm, pepper mint)

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